A UN delegation arrived in Phnom Penh Wednesday to begin the final negotiations on the creation of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, including its much-debated budget.
UN task force coordinator Mohammed Said told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport that the delegation “absolutely” expects to finalize a budget during its four-day visit, which ends Saturday.
Said replaces former task force head Karsten Herrel, who left the post in October.
The UN team will present a final budget to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who will then issue an official call for donations from the international community.
UN and government officials have estimated the tribunal’s total cost at $57 million.
The Cambodian government’s share of that cost is among the issues to be discussed during two days of talks between the teams. The government is bargaining to hold its contribution to $7 million, said Sean Visoth, secretary of the government’s tribunal task force.
“We want to close this black history, and I have finished our work already. We have only the budget problem [left],” he said.
In a report made public last month, Annan wrote that the Extraordinary Chambers to prosecute surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime would not be set up until pledges were secured to cover the tribunal’s expected three-year duration and enough money was in the bank to fund the first full year.
In his opening remarks to international donors at the Consultative Group meeting Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the meeting was an inappropriate venue to discuss funding the tribunal.
Though the UN will shoulder most of the responsibility for soliciting donations from the international community, “the Royal Government will contribute its own share of the budget,” Hun Sen said, according to a transcript of the event. “It is our desires that judging the past should help Cambodia build a bright future.”
It is not known whether Hun Sen will meet with the task force, Sean Visoth said.
The UN’s appearance in Phnom Penh comes after months of cancellations and delays on both the UN and Cambodian sides.
The government canceled a UN visit scheduled for September and then announced that it would not reissue the invitation until the UN contacted them. The UN initiated this week’s visit, Sean Visoth said.